Caeleb Dressel has the right priorities after deciding to leave both worlds

Caeleb Dressel showed a way of realizing the importance of mental health, and taking care of oneself

The decision was stunning from almost any perspective. In the middle of the world championship, Caleb Dresselthe best male swimmer in the world for five consecutive years, He was leaving the meeting for medical reasons (unrelated to COVID-19) before competing in most of his major events. Dressel has been captain of the US Worlds Championships, and his performances in his previous two FINA Show meet were amazing, so why did he leave?

Because Dressel is more than just a really good swimmer. He is an adult who has realized that he needs to put his health above swimming. He did not make any public comments for more than two months after leaving Budapest until Posted on his Instagram over the weekend. In that short publicity, Dressel revealed that he hadn’t been in a pool since the Worlds game. He missed swimming, but he was happy.

Dressel added, “I know I can swim and be happy. They had them at some point in my life and I’m working on them. If you need a break, take one.” Finally, he insisted that he would return to the pool, although he did not provide further details.

good for him. It’s good for this six-time Olympic gold medalist to realize that medals and results aren’t everything and to make the tough decision to prioritize himself over synthetic achievements like medal counts and records. Swimming is his job, but life is called, and Dressel had to answer to make sure it was really for himself.

At a different time, Dressel may have been criticized for his decision or called up from outside the team or even from his teammates who were left at the meeting in Budapest. Internally, this was not the case at all. Managing Director of the US National Team Lindsey Mintenko He said of Dressel’s colleagues in the US, “They were incredibly supportive of the decision that was made, about Caleb as a person.”

Swimming is clearly important to those individuals who have made so many sacrifices to perform at their best and represent their country at the biggest meet of the year, but even so important. World Championships The medals paled in comparison to mental health, and American swimmers had the maturity to realize that.

The focus on mental health in the world of sports, including swimming, has only been for the past several years. Big-name athletes have spoken openly about mental health, and as a result, being open about one’s issues has become a sign of courage rather than shyness. Mental health concerns permeate all levels of sport and society, and a young person who sees a role model facing the public speaking out about his or her own problems may be more willing to seek the all-important help he or she needs.

Elite former swimmers like Michael Phelps And the Alison Schmidt She played huge roles in Transforming the public narrative about mental health in sportAnd one year before Dressel decided to world championships, the gymnast Simone Biles She withdrew from most of her activities in the Tokyo Olympics due to health concerns. Biles received some negative feedback on her withdrawal, but she made the absolutely right call. Simply put, it wasn’t worth risking her health and safety for an athletic victory.

Swimming enthusiasts are hoping Dressel will return to the pool, for another chance to see his amazing sporting gifts on display, but his personal health and happiness take precedent – and rightly so. Dressel made the brave decision to quit the world championships.

Soon after, Beals withdrew from her events in Tokyo, Phelps appeared on NBC Sports and expressed her full support for her. “We are human,” said Phelps. “Nobody is perfect. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to go through emotional ups and downs and roller coasters. I think the most important thing is that we all need to seek help when we go through these times. For me, personally, it has been quite a challenge. It was hard for me to ask for help.”

Let’s hope that decisions like the ones Biles made last year and Dressel’s this summer make the task of asking for help a little easier.

Through his years swimming and numerous gold medals and records, Dressel has inspired countless young swimmers to be better in the pool, and his actions in the month of June are commendable. I hope that every athlete at Dressel Center, facing a crossroads and deciding between winning medals and feeling happy, will make the same decision to prioritize.

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